Monday, September 26, 2005

Amalfi Coast

When most Americans think of Italy they think of the Tuscany region, Rome, Florence, Venice and the Lake Como area.

Wines from Tuscany, known as the super Tuscanies, are the most prevalent in US wine cellars. Well known foods such as Eggplant Parmesian, Lasagna made with Ricotta cheese, and fried calamari from southern Italy.

These areas are beautiful, and their food and wine is marvelous, but are only a small portion of the fantastic scenery and variety of food and wine that Italy offers. In Europe, Italy is known as the “garden of Eden”. It is a peninsula with 3 mountain ranges (one of them the Alps on the northern border with Switzerland) about 1,000 miles of fantastic beaches where you can wade out about 1/2 mile and still only be waste deep and another 600 miles of breathtaking shoreline where the mountains drop almost straight down into the Mediterranean Sea.

Italians will usually take two major vacations during the year. The first to the sea in the summer and a winter week sometime between Christmas and Carnivale. Since the summer vacation period is during the month of August as the companies close for about 3 weeks, you want to avoid Italy during that period. So the most important rule is to avoid vacationing in Italy during the month of August. Prices will be higher and you may or may not be able to find accommodations.

In September northern Italy cools off very quickly and business heats up. Milan is the financial center and hosts numerous trade shows between September and November. Some of these shows are BIT - tourism, SMAU - Technology, and many fashion shows. Hotels are hard to find and very expensive. Often it will be necessary to stay in Bergamo or Brescia, 40-60 miles from Milan, to find a suitable hotel.

My favorite spots during the month of September are Sardegna, the Costa Amalfitana, or Sicily. These spots see a tremendous drop in the number of tourists yet the temperatures remain in the 80's. The sea is still warm from the summer and most of the lodging establishments are still open. The Costa Amalfitana is made up of several small towns.

They are: Almalfi, Atrani, Cetara, Conca dei Marini, Furore, Maiori, Minori, Positano, Praiano, Ravello, Scala, Tramonti, Vietri sul mare.

My idea of a vacation is to eat and drink well, catch some sun, sleep, and chat with people so my favorite itinerary would be to stay at a hotel in Praiano (very close to Positano). There is a family owned place right on the main road called "Re Tritone". In September the staff is reduced and usually the owner will serve you and actually have time to chat if that is what you desire. The food is really good, most made in house including some really fantastic deserts.

Once or twice we would have dinner in Positano right down on the shore. Just about any place will provide a "zuppa di pesce", “spaghetti alle vongole”, or just about any type of fish you desire. The hotel is built into the side of the cliff so the lobby is actually above the rooms that extend 5 floors below. You are about 100 feet about sea level and when you look down there is nothing between you and the water, no slopes, nothing. I would always ask for a corner room with the "francesina" bed. These rooms have a small balcony and you can sun bathe on your balcony.

Sometimes, when I would really need a rest, I would not leave the hotel for the entire 5 days. Breakfast on the balcony with fresh orange juice and sweet breads, lunch and dinner with the owner, napping again on the balcony in the afternoon and primarily just doing as little as possible. However if you want to get out and about I would always ask for the hotel to arrange for a car and local driver. I would tell him more or less what I wanted to do and then let him do the rest.


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Blogger Larry Aiello said...


Loved your article on Amalfi Coast...I wholeheartedly agree that Italy in September is probably the best month to go.

I've never been to Sardegna, but after reading what you had to say, it is definitely on my list!

Larry Aiello

7:01 PM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Larry Italy truly creates a problem, so many fantastic and marvelous places to see and only one lifetime to do it. You should travel often to Italy as your name suggests that this is your heritage.

I read and liked your site.

6:40 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi David, Great info! I lived in Varese for a few years in the mid-90s. What a beautiful country. Wife and I are headed to Naples area in September 2007 and your Praiano hotel recommendation sounds great. Any more details on Re Tritone? I looked for it on the web without luck. I'll check back or shoot me an email at Grazie! John Fiore, Bainbridge Island, WA

10:02 PM


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